Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lights on, we're home

As I mentioned earlier, I'm hoping to post a "green" message sort of semi-regularly with tips for changing the course of catastrophic climate change that we are on. This week's "green" post of the week is about lightbulbs. It was the first item on the "10 things you can do today" list for starting a process of becoming more aware and active in the effort to reverse the damage. I've actually found dozens of versions of the "10 things" lists, which differ slightly, but LIGHTBULBS seems to be numero uno in all of them.

Last week's big news story is that 2007 is expected to be the hottest year on record. And it's essentially due to greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide which are becoming trapped in our atmosphere and warming up the planet -- now to alarming rates. And the US contributes more than 30% of the carbon dioxide emissions -- more than bunches of countries put together, more than entire continents. So we need to start here.

1. Change a lightbulb. Replacing just one standard lightbulb with a compact fluorescent lightbulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Here's the impact: If every household in the U.S. replaced a burned-out bulb with an energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent bulb, the cumulative effect is enormous. It would prevent more than 13 billion pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere – which is like taking more than a million cars off the road for an entire year. Another site said it this way: If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.

People, this is HUGE. Yes, the bulbs cost a bit more initially, but they actually save you money in energy costs. Energy Star bulbs will save you $30 in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulb. And they last 10 times longer than a standard bulb anyway.

It's kind of the same rationale for using hand made soap. Yes, the bars cost a bit more than a family-pack of Ivory. But they last longer, they have less scary stuff in them, they save your skin from dryness and itchiness, which actually results in you having to spend less on creams or lotions to compensate, and voila! they are actually more economical and healthier for you.

Anyway, I've just been out shopping for new bulbs and have changed virtually every lightbulb in my house. I was amazed at some of the new technology. They've got so many more kinds now! Dimmable ones, outdoor spotlights, and they even have natural light or regular soft light bulbs. They don't have to have that harsh fluorescent look any more. Yay, I like a little more ambience.

A most excellent bonus to all this is that I actually get more light than I had before and I'm still using a fraction of the energy. The new bulbs use much tinier amounts of energy to emit lumens. So I can put the teeny wattage bulb in a so-called 60 watt lamp which actually emits the equivalent of about 75 or 100 watts of light, while using only 15-20 actual watts. My little old vintage lamps and shades don't get hot and I get a much lighter, brighter house. Instead of worrying about turning off lights in every room, I can have a couple of itty-bitty watt lamps on and actually see around here, all while using up just a fraction of the energy I would have otherwise. My lifestyle is improved in every way. I highly recommend it.